Here in Central Kentucky, most of us don't have a dog in the Super Bowl fight. We have a few transplants here and there from Western Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, but by and large, most of us are just rooting for the team whose players we like...or whose attitude we like...or whose city we like...or whose colors we like.
I was in that boat last year when the Colts played the Saints. I love Peyton Manning, but I wanted New Orleans to win after all they'd been through in recent years. You can read my dithering here. In the end, I was thrilled for the Saints.
No dithering this year. I'm a Steelers' fan through and through. The third entry I ever posted on this blog was on Super Bowl Sunday two years ago. Here's to you, Pittsburgh!
You can click on the link, but I've gained enough new readers in the last two years that it's worth recapping here.
My fandom comes not from the team itself, but from a community.
A Neighborhood called Speers Hill
Bruce coached for the California University of PA Vulcans from 1993-1997. (You need to click on that link just to see Vulcan, god of the forge, hammering the big V...lol) This necessitated a move from Kentucky to southwestern Pennsylvania. We bought our first house together in a neighborhood overlooking the Monongahela River called Speers Hill.
Cal U was a losing program when Bruce was hired. If you've never lived with a professional coach, you don't know that losing programs require way more hours at the office than winning programs. Bruce often worked 18-20 hour days.
I was six hours from anyone I knew. It snowed 96 inches that first winter. I was alone 20 hours a day with a baby and a toddler. Yep...Bruce had moved me to hell and it had frozen over.
Sometimes, it really did feel like hell when young son was howling in my arms and eldest was running in circles around me repeating, "Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama" and there was no hope of relief. Bruce wasn't coming home for hours, and my own mama was eight hours away. I remember sitting in the floor crying, wondering what I had done to deserve my fate.
Then, I met Tim and Carrie who lived next door. And Billy and Sandy who lived down the street. And Shelley across the street. And Shelley's eccentric dad who lived down the street. (He had "sweet" and "sour" tattooed over his nipples during the Vietnam War. He had a pool, so he displayed his tats on a regular basis.)
Suddenly, I wasn't alone anymore. Carrie's teenage daughters babysat when I needed a break. She and I worked in her garden. All the kids in the neighborhood, including mine, swam in her pool. I went back to school to get my teaching certificate, and Shelley gave me a break at the daycare she ran.
Billy and Sandy had Steeler-watching parties every single Sunday during football season. I went to the parties alone until the college season was over. The adults passed my youngest around and my eldest toddled after the older kids. I got to interact with grown-ups. When Bruce's season was over, he joined the party.
My social life revolved around the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steeler (the correct pronunciation is actually "Stiller") fans are the most rabid fans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I'm sorry Kentucky basketball fans. Your devotion is but a pale imitation of theirs. I have seen furniture thrown off a deck when the Steelers lost. I have seen my neighbor mow down his wife's rose bushes in the middle of the night because he was in a fugue state over their Super Bowl loss (f'n Neil O'Donnell and his four f'n interceptions). I have seen guns fired into the night sky after wins.
My neighbors foamed at the mouth over their Steelers. And because I had grown to love and rely on my neighbors, I began foaming a little bit. The infamous night of f'n Neil O'Donnell's four f'n interceptions, I was screaming like a lunatic at the television right along with everyone else.
Tonight, I will be screaming like a lunatic in support of my Steelers. Bruce will call Tim and Billy to make man-noises in support of the black and yellow. My heart will be with my good friends in Speers Hill, and at the end of the day, it will be a fun Super Bowl because I care about the outcome.
Here's a little video enjoyment, made more even more awesome by the fact they start with DEFENSIVE highlights! Here we go, Stillers, here we go!